What should "healthy" mean?

This article was originally published in November 2016

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is now taking comments on what the definition of “healthy” should be for food labels. The FDA says its plan to clarify “healthy” claims is meant “to provide tools and information that enable consumers to make food choices consistent with public health recommendations, and to encourage the development of healthier foods by the industry.”

The current “healthy” definition allows any food low in total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium to be considered “healthy,” as long as it provides at least one vitamin or mineral (A, C, iron, calcium). This outdated definition allows jelly beans, lemonade and fruit punch (with no fruit juice) to be labeled healthy, as long as they are fortified with vitamin C. At the same time, the Kind bar was forced to remove its healthy claim because the nuts in their bars were considered too high in fat to be healthy.

PCC believes the current definition for “healthy” label claims is seriously outdated. We’ll advocate for limits on added sugar to be included in the criteria for healthy claims. We’ll also argue that both cholesterol and total fat should be removed from the criteria. This would help align the definition of healthy with the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

What else should “healthy” mean when used on food labels? Email your suggestions to the FDA at their website.

Or, email your comments to us, nutrition@pccmarkets.com, and we’ll include your comments in our remarks to the FDA.

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